Trust Jesus. Let him reign in your hearts and minds and you will experience happiness and peace in these turbulent times.
That was the message from Arch Bishop Eamon Martin as he visited the Shrine of Christ the King on Sunday (22 November) at the suggestion of the new Parish Pastoral Council.
He said: “I have heard a lot about Newry’s unique shrine of Christ the King and how much it means to the local community. It is an honour to pray there on His feast day and to remember all those who have died in the parish and surrounding area over the past year. I think especially of those families who have been unable to share their grief in the customary way due to Covid19 restrictions. We assure them all that they are very much in our thoughts and prayers. We ask Jesus Christ our King to be with them in a special way as Advent and Christmas approach.”
Bishop Martin said he was reminded of the reasons why Pope Pius XI established the feast of Christ the King.
“Back in 1925, the world was in a state of chaos with the threat of dictatorships and the rise of secularism. It is important that we pray for those in positions of authority today, especially during this pandemic. May Christ the King grant them the gifts of wisdom, courage and good judgement in making decisions and help them to work for justice and equality for all.
“We live in a society where materialism is on the rise and some have forgotten the central role that He wants to have in each one of our lives. This feast is an opportunity for us to turn our focus once again to Christ the King and let Him reign in our hearts and minds. He truly is the route to lasting happiness and peace.
“Even though Christ is the supreme creator and leader of the universe, He does not want to control us. Instead He gave us free will. All He wants is for us to trust Him. If we submit voluntarily to God’s holy will He will direct our paths and bless us with many good things.”
The Feast of Christ the King is celebrated on the last Sunday before Advent each year. The Shrine in Newry is located on the corner of the Temple Hill Road and Pound Street, close to Monk’s Hill. According to a local source, four men, Mr Keenan, Mr Stacks, Mr O’Hare and Mr McAteer formed a committee and the local community helped to raise the money to build it.
It was erected in commemoration of the 1932 Eucharistic Congress, although at that time it was not enclosed with railings. Since then responsibility for looking after the Shrine has been handed down from one generation to the next.
One local resident said: “There is an ongoing tradition of lighting candles for special intentions at the Shrine and people have great faith in it. A crowd of us say the rosary every day during the months of May and October and people stop off at this sacred space for quiet prayer. It really is a focal point within our community and we are blessed to have it.”
The shrine is made of Newry granite and the statute itself of Carrara marble.